Ray and Gordie L’Dera

Ray and Gordona (Gordie) L’Dera are a married couple who were interviewed together.

Ray L’Dera was born in 1937 Wytheville, Virginia and grew up moving around a lot within the Appalachian region – his father was an Alsatian ex-pat who has been a spy in World War I. He gave up a career on Wall Street to be an actor. Gordie L’Dera was born in 1939 grew up in Pennsylvania, and came to New York City to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and then worked as an actor and also a receptionist on Wall Street.

Ray and Gordie met through theater, married quickly, and became involved in New York City housing politics in the mid-60s after they bought a house on State Street in Boerum Hill, which they then sold to buy two houses on South Portland in Fort Greene, while Ray worked as a real-estate agent. They were involved in the early brownstoners’ movement in Brooklyn, including the Brownstone Revival Committee, where they worked to organize across racial divides and support an integrated community. They moved to rural Pennsylvania for ten years to raise their two daughters, and returned to find themselves priced out of Brooklyn. They rented in East Harlem, in the 1980s where they were involved with tenant organizing via the Committee to Save East Harlem. Again pushed out by gentrification, in 1991 they bought a four unit tenement in Mott Haven, where they continue to live today. Building on work begun in Pennsylvania, they created Art Group, an integrated community theater company that that moved between Mott Haven and other parts of the city, active for almost a decade. They both continue to act as members of the Screen Actors’ Guild. Through owning a four-unit building in Mott Haven for almost three decades they have provided affordable housing to several families (including interviewer Amy Starecheski’s, since 2001) as well as stability and economic mobility for their own family, including their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, radically changing many lives.

Listen to a clip from their interview, created for New York City’s Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, here. Full interview here.